Becoming a successful team takes years of experience, countless hours of practice, and chemistry must be built over time. Or you could put together a team of never-haves in six weeks and still win.
Port Rowing (Port Washington High School) executed Option 2 earlier this month, becoming the first crew team in state history to win gold medals in its inaugural season.
The boys novice 4-plus boat won in the Long Island Junior Rowing Championship on May 8 at West Harbor, completing the course in 5:42.85, ahead of Iona Prep (5:49.36). In the state scholastic championship on May 14 in Saratoga Springs, the girls novice 4-plus enjoyed a blow, well, row-out victory (7:02.8), finishing way ahead of Nichols (7:18.36).
"You're talking about a new team that goes in the water every other day," Port Rowing coach Steve Panzik said. "Even in the novice category, they're the green of the green."
The program was put together early this year (tryouts began in February) after about a decade's worth of petitioning became a groundswell, and the team was supported with community funding. They have a fleet of seven boats -- "that probably total under $20,000" -- all of them used and one donated, Panzik said. They compete against other club teams in the region.
The team of 95 is a hodgepodge of athletes who letter in other sports and kids enjoying their first foray into organized sports.
"I've never seen a group come together so quickly," said Panzik, who started Manhasset's program 10 years ago. "It's a big school, so there's a good talent pool, but it's remarkable how they all bought in and did so well so soon."
Bay Shore also enjoyed success in states, with its boys novice 4-plus taking third. Its boys senior 8 team qualified for nationals for the first time and will compete in Cooper River, N.J. on Friday and Saturday.
As well, the team has several athletes who will row collegiately, including Julia Wendt (Princeton), Shannon DeCamp (Miami), Bryana Romanzi (Nova Southeastern). Among the boys, Riley Moran (Dowling), Matt Hartill (William & Mary), and Peter Wojcik, Mauricio Espinal and Brian Coomey will compete at SUNY-Maritime.
"I'm tremendously proud," coach Bill Blackman said. "This is the largest group of seniors I've ever graduated that all really followed through. They've gotten better and better each year."